The 2008 Presidential election will be here before we know it. We are already seeing the proverbial hats in the ring and all of the political rhetoric. I watched Larry King Live (which I never do) because Dr. Albert Mohler was one of the guest speakers on the topic of whether or not religion matters in an election. Should a person's religious affiliation matter to voters on election day?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Religion matters because it gives us a guidepost as to the moral and ethical values of a candidate. It matters because it allows us to quickly evaluate if the candidate shares common ground with our beliefs and convictions. Having said that, I think that the more important issue is whether or not the candidate is a Christian, since being a member of a particular denomination (even one that is traditionally evangelical) does not insure that the person is a born again believer. That is the true litmus test for my vote, and unfortunately it is something that many people in the political arena are hesitant to reveal for fear of alienating some part of the constituency.
As an Evangelical Christian, I have yet to see a clear cut choice for 2008. I have always maintained that I although I have voted primarily Republican in recent years, voting for a Democratic candidate is within the realm of possibility as long as I agree with their policies and moral values. Beyond the label of GOP or Democratic party, I would rather vote for a non-Christian with a good moral compass and a record for pro-life, pro-family and a plan to deal with poverty than a self professing Christian who talks the talk but does not walk the walk. I think too many candidates use God as an amulet...they pull it out when faced with conservative Christians but hide it in their pocket when questioned by the liberal left.
That is not how true Christianity works. The misconception today is that if you attend church regularly and live a "good" life that you are a Christian. This could not be farther from the truth, and is in fact a dangerous trend. 80% of Americans consider themselves "religious" or "Christian", but I have to believe that number is based on a misguided idea of what Christianity really is. Going to church and being "good" is not Christianity. You must accept the gift of grace from God in the form of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This in turn means being regenerated and living all areas of your life for the glory of God. This change goes hand in hand with becoming a Christian. If you believe (and I think many candidates do) that you can separate your biblical convictions as a Christian from how you cast a vote in office, then you might need to re-evaluate your relationship with God.
This is such a touchy subject because America is a country of religious freedom, and not all faiths have the same beliefs as Christianity. I agree with Dr. Mohler that the candidates should be straightforward regarding faith and convictions. I want to know about the convictions of the person I am putting into office. I want to be able to compare in a useful way the pros and cons of each candidate. Without all of the information, I cannot make a truly informed decision. The left would scream that religion should play no part in our decision to elect the President, but they use religion just as much as the conservative right does. For them it is the thing that makes them not vote for a candidate, so how is it any different?
For better or worse, this issue affects how we vote and all I can do right now is pray that God will work in the lives of the people with a desire to be President. I pray that they will be bold in their faith and stand by their convictions in spite of pressure and persecution.